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PhD projects

Film and politics; Democratic theory; Meritocracy; Pragmatism; Singapore politics


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Personal profile

Chinese Name



Kenneth Paul TAN is a tenured Professor of Politics, Film, and Cultural Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), which hired him under its Talent100 initiative in February 2021. He teaches and conducts interdisciplinary research at the Academy of Film, the Department of Journalism, the Department of Government and International Studies, and the Smart Society Lab.

Previously, he was a tenured Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKY School). He was Vice Dean of the LKY School during the most rapid and critical years of its growth and served in its senior leadership team for almost a decade. Prior to that, he taught concurrently at the NUS Political Science Department (where he was Assistant Head) and the University Scholars Programme, the university's pioneering and cutting-edge liberal arts programme.

He has received numerous teaching awards over the years, including NUS's most prestigious Outstanding Educator Award. He was elected Chair of the university's Teaching Academy.

His books include the best-selling Movies to Save Our World: Imagining Poverty, Inequality and Environmental Destruction in the 21st Century (Penguin, 2022), Singapore's First Year of COVID-19: Public Health, Immigration, the Neoliberal State, and Authoritarian Populism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022), 新加坡模式:城邦國家建構簡史 (季風帶文化,2020), Singapore: Identity, Brand, Power (Cambridge University Press, 2018), Governing Global-City Singapore: Legacies and Futures After Lee Kuan Yew (Routledge, 2017), Cinema and Television in Singapore: Resistance in One Dimension (Brill, 2008), and Renaissance Singapore? Economy, Culture, and Politics (NUS Press, 2007).

He has also published numerous articles in leading international journals, reflecting an innovative and interdisciplinary research agenda that bridges Political Science, Public Management, Policy Studies, Sociology, Urban Studies, Cultural Studies, and Film and Media Studies.

He has held visiting fellowships and honorary professorships at the Australian National University, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Georgetown University (on a Fulbright Fellowship), Harvard University, Sciences Po, the University of Duisburg-Essen, and the University of Hong Kong. In 1995, he received the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew Postgraduate Scholarship to do a PhD in Social and Political Sciences at the University of Cambridge, which he completed in 2000. In 1994, he obtained a First Class Honours degree in the Joint School of Economics and Politics at the University of Bristol on a Public Service Commission Overseas Merit (Open) Scholarship.

He is a member of the National Arts Council (Singapore)’s Arts Advisory Panel and the National Museum of Singapore’s Advisory Board. He was the founding chair of the Asian Film Archive’s Board of Directors and the chair of the Board of Directors of theatre company The Necessary Stage (Singapore).

Short Bio: Kenneth Paul TAN is an academic all-rounder, (1) who has interdisciplinary expertise in Political Science, Public Management, Policy Studies, Sociology, Urban Studies, Cultural Studies, and Film and Media Studies, applied in a multi-dimensional, qualitative, interpretive, and critical analysis of Singapore as a developmental state and a global city;  (2) who has won several prestigious teaching awards recognizing a scholarly and innovative approach to interdisciplinary, socially transformative, and highly interactive teaching and learning, combining the best of liberal arts and professional modes of education; and (3) who, as a seasoned academic leader with deep experience in institution-building, served in the senior leadership team that was able to transform a young public policy school into a world-leading institution within just a few years.

Research Interests

Kenneth Paul Tan works in the fields of Political Science, Public Management, Policy Studies, Sociology, Urban Studies, Cultural Studies, and Film and Media Studies.

He is currently working mainly on book projects pertaining to:

1. Cold War ideologies, narratives, lived experiences, and their intersections

2. Governance, policymaking, and democracy in Singapore

3. Moral reasoning in the public sphere

4. Film, socio-political activism, and leadership

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 1 Jun 2000

Bachelor, University of Bristol

Award Date: 1 Sept 1994


Dive into the research topics where Kenneth Paul TAN is active. Topic labels come from the works of this scholar.
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